Michigan State Parks: Pinckney State Recreation Area

Pinckney State Recreation Area entrance sign

Pinckney State Recreation Area is one of the larger state parks in Michigan with 11,000 acres, 20 lakes, and more than 40 miles of multi-use trails.

Its location in the south-central Lower Peninsula makes Pinckney State Recreation Area easily accessible for many types of recreation enthusiasts. Visitors include hikers, mountain bikers, anglers, kayakers, and equestrians. In the winter you can cross-country ski, and there are even hike-in backcountry campsites for the more adventurous.

Hell, Michigan
Greetings from Hell!

The nearest towns are the village of Pinckney and the small community known as Hell. (Yes, Hell, Michigan is a place, and yes, you should visit!). In the 1800s, locals built a sawmill, gristmill, distillery and tavern along Hell Creek. Soon after, a summer resort opened. After the resort failed, the state appropriated funds during the 1940s and ’50s to acquire the land to build a state park.

Our biggest piece of advice before you even arrive at the park is to look at a map! Seriously, check out the website before you arrive. The state park has multiple entrances. Depending on which type of activity you plan to enjoy, you’ll want to know in advance which area to head for. You’ll often need to drive miles between locations.

Activities at Pinckney State Recreation Area

Silver Lake day-use area is the center of activities at Pinckney State Recreation Area. In addition to a picnic area, it has a large swimming beach with changing rooms and showers. Also available are rental facilities for kayaks, canoes, SUPS, and rowboats. Visitors also can enjoy a playground, sand volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, and a fishing pier, as well as access to a number of trails.

Silver Lake at Pinckney State Recreation Area
Boat rentals at Pinckney State Recreation Area

Another day-use area is Halfmoon Lake. This area offers a picnic area and shelters, boat launch, trail access, sand volleyball court, horseshoe pits and playground.

Halfmoon Lake beach at Pinckney State Recreation Area
Halfmoon Lake day-use area

Other lakes in the park offer both improved and unimproved boat launches for lots of fishing opportunities. Visit the state park website for more details.

The state allows hunting in the majority of the state park specific to the season. Hunting is not allowed in the day-use areas or campgrounds.

Camping at Pinckney State Recreation Area

There are multiple options for camping at Pinckney State Recreation Area, including both rustic and modern campgrounds.

Bruin Lake Campground – open sites by the lake

The Bruin Lake Campground offers 160 modern campsites with a picnic table, fire ring, and electricity at each site. Modern restrooms have flush toilets and showers. Individual sites do not have water hookups, but water is available in the campground. The campground offers sites in different shapes and sizes, and some are more level than others. There are two “sections.” The upper section has grass sites tucked between giant mature trees that provide lots of shade. The lower section provides paved sites right next to the lake but are wide open with no shade.

Bruin Lake campground at Pinckney State Recreation Area
Bruin Lake Campground – sites tucked into the trees

If you don’t have a tent or trailer, you can rent a cabin or a yurt.

A yurt at Pinckney State Recreation Area

If rustic is more your style, there are 25 campsites available at Crooked Lake, and 10 hike-in-only campsites at Blind Lake. Both have vault toilets, a hand pump for water, and fire rings.

Trails at Pinckney

With more than 40 miles of trails, there are plenty of options for enjoying nature by foot, bike or horse. Check out the 17-mile Potawatomi mountain bike trail. Or traverse the 35-mile Waterloo-Pinckney Hiking Trail connecting Pinckney State Recreation Area to Waterloo State Recreation Area. The Mike Levine Lakelands Trail runs near the northern border of the state park and connects to one of the equestrian trails.

Two adults in the woods
Mountain Bike trail at Pinckney State Recreation Area

We have plenty more adventures to come, so subscribe to this blog and our YouTube channel. We have a video about Pinckney State Recreation Area here. You can follow us on Instagram, our Facebook page, and Twitter. Plus, you can see each of the parks we visited on this interactive Google Map. You also can keep track of our activities on social media with the hashtag #hikecampgo.

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